Oct 29, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Clued In Kids

Ever since my kids were little bitty I have spiced up those awkward holidays (I'm talking about you Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day!) with scavenger hunts. They have always found it fun and exciting for me to buy a small treat, hide it, and create clues for them to follow to the "treasure". The only drawback to this is that creating clues gets harder and harder for me as they get older. I was able to pull off clues like "where you sleep" or "you would find socks here" but they want and need something a little more difficult than that these days. So I was pleased to get the chance to review for Clued In Kids.

Clued In Kids offers many different treasure hunts for kids that teach academic subjects like logic, math, and reading but also encourage teamwork and problem solving all the while the kids are having a great time. You can choose either a printable PDF or a physical hunt. We received two PDF hunts.

Soccer Treasure Hunt  $5.99

Multiplication Dragons (which is actually five different hunts and uses the multiplication tables from 2x to 6x.) $19.99

This was incredibly simple to use. I printed off the clues, cut them in half (they come 2 clues to a sheet of paper), sent the kids to the front yard, hid the clues, and then let them have fun! That was all there was to it. I took a lot of pictures so you could see it in action.

I have to mention two things first, though. One, our printer started acting like a jerk so all of our clues are either oddly colored or black-and-white. The clues are supposed to be beautiful, full-color pictures. Two, please ignore the back of Abbie's head (she really hasn't been sleeping under a bridge for the past month, it was just really super windy and we were already started before I noticed mom fail), the faces drawn on the girl's hands, and the messy kitchen. :)

There are 12 clues in each hunt.

Each clue has a cute picture, the number of the clue (this is important because the kids accidently found a clue too early but quickly realized it because they knew they had skipped numbers) and the actual clue itself. There were lots of fun ways to solve the clue: adding and subtracting the value of coins; telling time; dot-to-dot; finding hidden objects; unscrambling words; and even folding the clue in a particular way!

For me, the coolest part of each clue was the little hint on the bottom, left hand corner that told me where to hide that particular clue. This is especially awesome, because when I write my own hunts, I have to keep the clues in exact order and pay careful attention to where I hide them! With Clued In Kids, I just grabbed them up and ran around the house putting them in all the right places.

They took turns solving the puzzles. Every family is different, so it might not work for you, but 12 was actually the perfect number for us because it is divisible by four. :)

On this puzzle, they got some of the answers wrong, but were able to figure out where to look anyway. However, if you have younger kids, you might need to provide some help in cases like these. 

The clues had them running all over the place, both inside and out! 

For the Soccer Treasure Hunt the puzzles they had to solve were mostly soccer related, which delighted them, since they play soccer. But not all of them were. They were easily solved by my 7 and 8 year olds with the exception of one that required multiplication and division. So this hunt would be perfect for younger kids that can read and follow directions. 

The Multiplication Dragons hunts required them to solve multiplication problems. The correct answer matched the location of their next clue. So Abbie was unable to participate these hunts and Daniel was only able to do half of them because that is all the multiplication he knows. They were great review for Kaytie and Nate, though, and the little kids will be able to do them in the future. All I have to do is print them again!

I loved that these hunts took the kids longer to do than it took me to put together. 

I love that they required teamwork, sharing, and a little bit of hard thinking from the kids.

Abbie practiced her reading skills.

Daniel practiced his math skills.

They all had a blast looking for the harder clues.

And they certainly earned their treasure. :)

They were delighted with the hunt and the experience. 

Kaytie: I liked it. It was lots of fun. I would love to do another one!

Nate: My favorite part was the treasure! The clues were fun, too. 

Daniel: It was fun. I liked folding the paper to find the bed. The candy was yummy!

Abbie: I liked the clue that had the backwards word. That was funny. I loved hunting for candy. I want to do another one, too.

But don't just take our word for it, you can read what other Crew members have to say by clicking on the banner below, or you can sign up for the Clued In Kids Newsletter and get a free hunt to try for yourself. And look through all the different hunts because they appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests!

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Oct 28, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: New Liberty Videos

I've mentioned before that we are studying Ancient History this year and also that I want my kids to know the history of the Scriptures and to be able to speak the truth of how and when and why they came to be. I believe that God has given us "proof" of the validity of the Scriptures. But the sad thing is that it can be hard to find that proof as an ordinary Christian in America today. Too often have I been told that we need to just accept on faith or given the circular argument that the Bible says it is true and therefore it must be. I am guessing that is enough for a lot of people, but it's not enough for me and I have at least one kid that I already know it won't be enough for him! I say all of that to say, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review a DVD from New Liberty Videos. This DVD is called Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I have to confess that I was so excited to see a DVD about the Dead Sea Scrolls that I honestly didn't pay much attention to what it was actually about. So I was quite surprised when we sat down to watch it and I realized that yes, 1/3 of the DVD was about the Scrolls but there was much more to it than that!

The DVD is an hour long, but it is divided into three parts so don't feel pressured to watch it all in one sitting. We did, but that was simply because I was so fascinated that I wouldn't let the kids turn it off. Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls is intended for general audiences with no specific age range mentioned. Our experience was it was completely "family friendly" with no scary, inappropriate, or violent content. I, as an adult, was, as I said, completely fascinated and wanted to watch it again right away. My 11 and 10 year olds were intrigued and stayed engaged the entire hour. My 8 and 7 year olds were fidgety but were still able to contribute to the discussion afterwards so they obviously got something out of it!

The first part was Joel Lampe talking about the Scrolls. He discussed who put them in the cave, why they were hidden so long, their discovery, and, most interesting how the 19,000 pieces were put back together. It was amazing just what a difficult job that was and how much patience and perseverance was required. It also impressed me how technology like infra-red cameras and even DNA was used in putting together the pieces of the puzzle.

The second part was, hands down, my favorite. It was Dr. Frank Seekins explaining the word pictures of the Hebrew language. We learned that Hebrew is a word based language, and a picture based language and a relationship based language. And this is the language that God used to share Himself with us. Isn't that amazing?!? Truly, this part wasn't long enough! I was blown away by facts like, the word for husband and the word for wife are identical except for one letter. If you take that one letter from each picture word and put the two together, it forms the word for God. Without that one letter, both husband and wife become the picture word for destructive fire. So with God, marriage is a bringing of our differences into a picture of God's glory. Without God, man and woman together become a double (the ultimate in Hebrew) destructive fire. Isn't that amazing?!?! And there was more, but I won't give it all away!

The third part was Dr. Craig Lampe detailing the history of the Bible from Constantine to William Tyndale. He talked about the translation of the Scriptures from Greek to Latin then to German and then to English. He discussed the sacrifices that Luther, Wycliffe, Tyndale and others made in order for the Bible to be put into the hands of anyone and everyone that wanted to read it. The Bible that I own several copies of and take for granted way too much.

As I said, we just sat down one day and watched the entire 60 minute video. Afterwards, we talked about it. This was necessary because both the big kids were confused on some big issues in the third part! I'm not sure if this was because their brains were a little weary by the time we got to the third section or if the way Dr. Lampe explained it was hard for them to follow, but we did get it straightened out in the end.

The kids said:

Kaytie: The thing is, it wasn't mostly about the Dead Sea Scrolls like I thought it would be. The only thing that was about the Scrolls was the first section. The rest was about Hebrew and the Bible. I learned that a lot of the scrolls were found in different caves and they had cool libraries with shelves in the caves. I learned that Hebrew goes from right to left and it made me want to learn Hebrew and find out more about the cool word pictures! The most amazing one was the equivalent to "z" means finished and it is a cross. I liked that Hebrew can be read both by words and pictures. Finally, I learned that there were a lot of people that translated it and the first ones were incorrect but the people who translated it the second time wanted people to know what the Scripture really said so they translated it correctly.

Nate: It was interesting. I liked learned about how the Hebrew language explained parts of the Bible and what the Bible means. I liked the infra-red camera. 

Daniel: I learned that boys and girls are supposed to be their sibling's guards.* A boy was trying to find his goat and cracked some pottery and went in the cave and found the first Dead Sea Scroll. Then people were alarmed and went into other caves to find more and some people did. And in the caves there was slits in the walls where there were shelves with lots of scrolls on them. I liked the infra-red thing because it helped us see them better! I liked the displays the guy had of the scrolls and the view from the caves. 

*this was from the Hebrew section... another fascinating tidbit of a picture word

Abbie: It was fascinating because I could read the Hebrew! I learned that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in caves, but I forgot what the name was. A boy found them because he threw rocks at a cave and heard glass breaking and went in and there was pots with scrolls in them and that's how he found them. 

As for me, I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD and want to hear more of what each of these three men have to say! I especially loved the Hebrew section, which I even made my husband watch. Like Kaytie, it made me want to learn Ancient Hebrew so that I can understand the Bible better! But the other two sections were also fascinating. I have rewatched this video several times and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Bible history. Be warned, though, it will leave you hungry for more.

You can buy a copy of Mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls for $19.95.

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Oct 25, 2014

Our Week In Photos 2

Daddy was out of town, so I splurged and took the kids to Sonic for supper. They were arguing over who got the complimentary mint. When the carhop came out and asked if there was anything else we needed, I impulsively asked for some extra mints. My thought was that there was probably a couple in the bag and he would give me a couple more and all the kids would get one. Instead he came back with a heaping handful which he dumped into my incredulous hands. Then he pulled some more from his apron and tossed them into the back of the car at the kids. I snapped this picture when we got home and it's only about half of the mints that he gave us.

Sofie, half begging, half sneaking closer and closer to help herself if needed. She is super stealthy and as subtle as a semi.

I was so delighted to have to tell Abbie to stop reading and finish her chores! :) This is commonplace for the big kids but the little kids just started delving into the delights of reading for pleasure.

Abbie found a snail (Mr. X was his name) and Daniel built this mountain for him to climb. I think Mr. X escaped before he came to a bad end on this version of Mt Everest.

Who needs a pillow pet when you can use your pet for a pillow?

Nate was at a friends' birthday party last night so I took the other three kids to an early trick or treat event. The lines were incredibly long, which explains Daniel's long face. Bonus points to anyone who can tell me who the kids are dressed up to be!

The baby that we babysit likes to do this with his paci. He puts it there as a handy sort of pocket when he doesn't want it in his mouth. 

Daniel took this photo of the beautiful leaf he found.

And Abbie went out to take a picture of a bird but came back with this. 

Oct 18, 2014

Apple Orchard Field Trip

This week we took a field trip to a local apple orchard.

They each had at least one "best" friend there and they ran around, picked apples, went on a hayride, slapped mosquitoes, and generally had a great time.

Oct 16, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Apologia iWitness

One of the main goals my husband and I have for our kids' education is to teach them to think. We don't want them to be followers, believing something just because they were told it is true. We don't want jumping on every idea or argument that sounds good or feels good. We want them to sift through the information, sorting through the propaganda, the emotion, the rhetoric and reach an intelligent, intellectually honest conclusion. And our recent review product from Apologia Educational Ministries has helped with this goal. We reviewed a set of three books: iWitness Biblical Archaeology ;  New Testament iWitness; and Old Testament iWitness.

Even when they were very small, I taught my children that there are people who believe differently than we do. There are people who do not believe that the Bible is a true historical account of facts and events. I have often explained their viewpoint, rebutted it with our viewpoint and have never shied away from the fact that there are some things we simply don't know for sure who is right. Like it or not, there are some things we have to accept on faith.

Now that they are a little older, my husband often watches documentaries with the kids. Those historical archaeological shows that discuss findings that quite often relate to the Bible. They love to watch and talk about these shows, but of course, the issue is that they are always slanted toward the opposing viewpoint.

I was delighted to find this set of books from Apologia that presents similar information from the slant of our worldview. The reading level for these books is 11 years old and up. I read them aloud to my crew of 7 to 11 year olds and they were all able to follow along quite easily.

These books are paperback, but they are beautiful! Each two-page spread is a section of information. The pages have a old-fashioned scrapbook feel to them. The text is written in snippets, divided onto what looks likes antique paper so that it feels like a journal of sorts. These are layered around photographs of actual archaeological finds, paintings, and source material. This effect engaged and intrigued my kids. They enjoyed just looking and looking at the pages as I read.

 Old Testament iWitness answers the questions: Who wrote the books of the Old Testament? How did they come to be gathered into one book? Who decided what writings went in and what did not? Has the Scripture changed over the years or has it stayed faithful to the original? How do we know the Old Testament is historically accurate? These were questions that I, a kid raised in the church had asked many times over the course of my life. I honestly believe that most Christians these days have no idea of the answers. I enjoyed being able to read through this book with my own children so that they are now know such things as: how the scribes copied the manuscripts; what the Septuagint, the Apocrypha, and the Torah are; who wrote each book, when, and why; and oh, so much more!  This book was packed full of information about the Old Testament and why we should believe it is the inspired word of God.

New Testament iWitness explores the same sort of questions about the New Testament. This book starts by explaining how books were "chosen" to be part of the New Testament. The surprising answer is that they weren't chosen at all! But rather all the books in the New Testament fit a predetermined criteria that all Christians understood a divine teaching had to have. I found this fascinating. It was certainly information I did not already know! It also addresses the reason the Bible can no longer be added to. It also tells about rejected books, creeds, the apostles, the problems with copying manuscripts by hand and so much more.

 iWitness Biblical Archaeology was probably our favorite. It fit right into what we are studying in history as it told us about different archaeological finds that have backed up and proven the Bible to be true. It moves chronologically through history, starting with the Flood, various flood myths, and the hunt for the Ark. It discusses Egypt and the Exodus, King David, King Hezekiah's tunnel, the Dead Sea Scrolls and many topics revolving around Jesus' life.

They were easy for us to use. I simply added them to our "Creche Conference" time. I read aloud a couple of pages a day (sometimes more if the topics flowed well and the kids' interest remained high) and then we would chat a bit about what we learned. They would pore over the pictures and ask a lot of questions. They were perfect for providing the information I wanted my kids to have about the authenticity of the Bible.

 Each book is $14. They are thin books, but each one is literally packed with information. They were a definite hit in our family.

This is what the kids had to say:

Kaytie: It was interesting because it used real facts to prove that the Bible is true. I liked the pictures. I like that the printing looks like handwriting so that it looks like a journal. 

Nate: I liked it. It was interesting. I liked learning about how archeology has proven the Bible.

Daniel: I liked it because the pictures helped us understand what it really looked like. 

Abbie: I like it because us information about the Bible. Like where the Ark might be. 

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Oct 11, 2014

7 Random Pictures

Nate as a little boy. :) How blue his eyes were!!!

The kids doing a science experiment at the motel when we moved. We stayed in this room for several weeks waiting on our house, so we had to do a lot of interesting things to keep the kids occupied.

Kaytie making a Christmas present many years ago.

The girls. My niece took this picture and I love it so much there is a copy of it hanging in our hallway.

My boys and bugs have always been inseparable.

This is Abbie trying to stay dry. We were watching Daniel's soccer game when it started raining.

Daniel dressed like a pirate for halloween several years ago. Doesn't he look fierce? And absolutely adorable?


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